Danny Coates – Promoter Of That Riviera Touch, South Shields – North East Mod Weekender & Get Smarter, Gosforth, Newcastle.
Continuing my chat with Newcastle Mod & DJ Danny Coates regarding his recollections and his redolent memories of his participation in the UK Mod scene for over 40 years, here is part two of his transcript. Here in Danny’s own words, he enthusiastically tells us about how the Mod club, Get Smarter in Gosforth evolved. In addition he also talks about the popular and successful North East Mod Weekender, That Riviera Touch, that he also organises in South Shields.
I know that you are one of the collaborative organisers & DJs for your event Get Smarter, based in Gosforth, could you tell us how you became involved & who the original founders were?
Well believe it or not I wasn’t involved in the first few Get Smarter nights. These were held at the Riverside in Sunderland. Those initially involved were two local Mods Steve Driver, my old mate Chris Spring (RIP), another southerner Ash Dear, and a very young Ethan McDermott.
I got involved when the night moved to the Lord Clyde in Byker. I was asked by Chris and Steve to do a guest spot. It seemed like it was an audition and I passed (haha). At that point our main thing was to play 50s/60s Club Soul, Beat, a touch of Ska, R&B and general Mod classics. However we prided ourselves in finding alternative versions of classics, just to give the night a twist.
After moving Get Smarter from Byker, how did the Mod Club progress on your move to the Clyde ?
The numbers we had were never fantastic, and did look a little daft in the function room of the Clyde. Ash left due him feeling the strain he said. Steve was now a grandad he wanted to spend more time with his new family members. Ethan had forged a brilliant career on the Northern scene, which left me and Chris. Therefore we switched to the bottom bar, but with not much success, except for a Weekender. Here we included bands. Something I would never do again, it’s a nightmare!!. They were, DC Fontana, Electric Stars, The 45s (from Glasgow), The Found. Also making their very first ever live appearance the fabulous King Mojo.
The weekend went very well, and we thought we’d turned a corner. However sadly it was a bit of an Indian summer. Three Get Smarter‘s later we had more DJs than punters. Combine that with threats from other club nights that they would “come and smash our gear and records” we pulled the next few Get Smarter nights.
We knew we were playing the right music and we knew we were advertising it right. However we couldn’t figure out if the other clubs were influencing people not to come locally. Or just that people just didn’t like us. As you know most people on the scene are really fickle. They tend to only support the events which are ‘must be seen’ to attend. Or like the promoter as a friend. Therefore we sat back and relaxed. We planned our next move, brought more records, attended more UK wide events. Additionally through it all, looked for the perfect venue.
So how did events unfold for yourself & Chris to decide to put on Get Smarter at the Gosforth Hotel?
Months went on, me and Chris would regularly most Saturdays, meet up in Gosforth. Here we would do the Hight St charity shops to look for clothes, and would retire to The Gosforth Hotel for some food and a drink. On some occasions even breakfast before our Saturday adventures. Then one day a chance conversation with Paul, the landlord, became a game changer. I don’t know how or can’t remember why but he told us of his function room above the pub.
So we asked to take a look, as we walked into a room, that looked straight out of 1963. Wood bar, glass shutters, hanging lights, a stage the room could hold 90/100 we were told. Me and Chris looked at each other and knew was the new venue. Ironically we were later to find out, that we were both having the same line from the iconic North East based film or club name derives from Get Carter in our heads. “Is there a Mr Carter in the room” and the rest is history.
Get Smarter’s venue continues to be at the Gosforth Hotel, tell us about it’s success ?
From the first night we had to the present day we have filled the room. Sadly Chris passed away several years ago now. This hit me quite hard, and I wasn’t going to continue. However I was urged by mine and his friends to continue. I know he would be proud of what it has become. The club is synonymous with the Mod scene in the North East. Like the Club A’Gogo was in the 60s.
It is referred to as one of the Premier League Modernist clubs in the UK. Which is very flattering. Not bad from the beginnings we came from. The numbers now on the door do pay testament to the venue of the Gosforth Hotel. Equally too to the guest DJs we have had over the years, but Get Smarter is the crowd its like the 12th man at the football when you play at home.
From those humble beginnings to the successful Get Smarter, you now also host the popular North East Mod Weekender, That Riviera Touch. Tell us how this came about Danny.
You asked about That Riveria Touch, Jayne, well that was always a pipe dream of mine and Chris’s to do a Weekender like the fabulous Dreamsville or 3 Keys, bringing together Mod DJs and clientelle from all over the UK and have a two day Get Smarter. We couldn’t of imagined the response and sold out 200 tickets in two and half weeks. This was a year before the event. We also had over 150 people asking for any handback tickets, and 2020 sold out even quicker in under two weeks. Which of course had to be cancelled and postponed to this July (2021), due to the pandemic.
Where does your North East Mod Weekender, That Riviera Touch, take place Danny?
We have had lots of people on the waiting list again for handback. That Riveria Touch takes place in the North East’s, South Shields, a wonderful seaside town between Sunderland and Newcastle just before the mouth of the mighty Tyne at the New Sundial.
This is a fully equipped, fully air-conditioned, swish and beautiful function room. In addition with the added attraction of an amazing balcony that over looks the beach, with views of historic Tynemouth and all the mouth of the Tyne. This is an ideal location, which is widely praised by most who attended That Riviera Touch in 2019. However you will see that yourself Jayne as you were lucky enough to bag a ticket for 2020. (Which of course had to be put back due to Lockdown to a month’s time on 30th July 2021) ?
Who are some of the DJs who have played sets at Get Smarter and That Riviera Touch?
Get Smarter and That Riviera Touch, I have been lucky to have indulged myself with some of my fave DJs (who are friends too). Lee Miller, Andrea Mattioni, Chris Reilly, Nick Wain, Mark Annis, Ethan McDermott, Pete Griffin, Trish McConnell, Ady Buchan, Haydn Bye and many more, plus have Jake Kirkham and Ian Forrester as residents. Our afternoon sets have attracted some fab spinners too, Adrian Hawkins, Rob Coulman, Jonny Monk, Ian Forrester, Alex Parton, Sean Courtney, and as above many, many more if I’ve missed any I’m really sorry, but there has been so many.
And with regards to Get Smarter, when is your next event?
Get Smarter is taking a rest at the moment until November 2021. It’s been 8 long years of ups and downs, and it’s taken it’s strain on me, but it will be back and hopefully will again be heavily supported. Get Smarter was first of this kind in recent years in the Newcastle area to play a 60s Modernist exclusively with an ‘Original Vinyl Only’ policy. Hopefully we will be remembered as nights for both Get Smarter and That Riviera Touch where people kick off their shoes, throw away their inhibitions and come out for good nights of dancing and socialising with the collet of the cool from all over the UK.
Promoter of Get Smarter & That Riviera Touch
To view more about these events : Get Smarter and That Riviera Touch, can be found on Facebook.
That Riveria Touch 2019 Mixcloud
As to all the collaborators to Soul & Mod, I would like to extend a warm thanks to Danny for his time and chats and transcripts. In part 3 of Danny’s Mod journey across the decades, he discusses his clothing style and also his scooters … Until then for those attending That Riviera Touch 2021 and future ones and Get Smarter, the organisers will look forward to seeing you on that dancefloor ?
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